Thu, Aug 17, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Pakistan may extradite terror suspect to Britain

IN CUSTODY A British national thought to be behind last week's foiled plot to bomb transatlantic flights could be sent to the UK from his jail cell in Pakistan

AFP , ISLAMABAD

The alleged key planner behind an airline bombing plot foiled last week may face extradition to Britain, Pakistani authorities say.

Britain has not yet officially requested that Rashid Rauf -- who is being interrogated in Pakistan -- be extradited, but Pakistan said he could be sent to London.

"Rashid Rauf is a British national. We do not have any extradition treaty at the moment, but yes because he is a British national the possibility of his extradition remains there," Tasnim Aslam of Pakistan's foreign ministry said.

"We have not received any request for extradition, so it would be hypothetical at this stage. But we have arrangements for mutual legal assistance," she said.

She added: "We will continue to cooperate closely."

Rauf, an al-Qaeda suspect, allegedly gave breakthrough details of the conspiracy after his arrest early this month, she said.

Britain last week arrested around two dozen people, reportedly including Rauf's brother Tayib, 22, in connection with the alleged plot to bomb US-bound passenger jets.

Toughened security caused chaos at airports worldwide following the arrests.

Pakistan said last week that Rauf was a "key man" in the conspiracy and had connections to the al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan.

Security officials said another Briton and five Pakistanis had been arrested.

"He [Rauf] is being interrogated," Aslam said without elaborating.

The British Foreign Office said it was waiting for a response from Pakistan's government concerning the arrests of two others who were reported to be Britons.

"We actually sent a note verbale to the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for an official status on the two individuals that were arrested, ie, nationality and things like that," a Foreign Office spokesman said in London.

The spokesman said he was "not aware" that there has been a response yet. The gist of the note was to find out whether the two were indeed British nationals and whether British consular officials can visit them.

Pakistan's Aslam said Rauf had "nothing to do" with any charities involved in operations after last October's earthquake in southern Asia, which left 73,000 people dead and three million homeless.

She denied as "absurd" reports, including one in Tuesday's Washington Post, that a Pakistani charity that received US$10 million from Britain for disaster relief helped to fund the plan.

"These are all absurd baseless stories. The objective is to malign Pakistan and to cast a shadow on the efforts made by Pakistan to uncover and foil this terrorist plot," Aslam said.

Following reports that Rauf's father Abdul had worked for a quake relief charity in Britain, she said: "If one person is involved in a criminal act it does not mean that the entire family is criminal."

Separately a Pakistani official said that authorities had previously probed the transfer of ?20 million (US$37 million) from Britain to Pakistan, but it was in a money-laundering case and was "not even remotely linked" to the bomb plot.

A Briton of Pakistani descent sent the money via Dubai between May and November last year into three Pakistani bank accounts operated by four Britons of similar ethnicity, the official said.

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UK cops nab 24th London bomb plotter

From Pakistan to Britain, the story of a web of terror

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